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Down to Earth - - COVER STORY - KUN­DAN PANDEY RICHARD MA­HA­P­A­TRA

trawls through the vast, vir­tual F ONE world of stock mar­ket in­vestors and an­a­lysts, one thing strikes the eye: the fre­quent ap­pear­ance of the word “biotech”. Dig fur­ther into any post­ing on biotech and the com­puter screen gets al­most del­uged with rec­om­men­da­tions for buy­ing shares of biotech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies. By the time one presses “quit”, the mes­sage hits home over­whelm­ingly: the global biotech­nol­ogy in­dus­try is boom­ing, and in an un­prece­dented way.

The news is like sooth­ing balm for the re­ces­sion-hit world econ­omy. Ev­ery new drug dis­cov­ery or drug ap­proval not only draws cheers from mil­lions of vic­tims of de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­eases but also adds value to biotech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies. Since the past two years, such dis­cov­er­ies and ap­provals are hap­pen­ing at an un­usual pace, par­tic­u­larly in the US mar­ket. One also can­not ig­nore the length­en­ing list of generic drugs, mostly pro­duced by small com­pa­nies. This has, as an­a­lysts point out, prompted ma­jor drug com­pa­nies to ac­quire smaller ones to re­tain their mar­ket share. In a com­plex play of sci­en­tific progress and mar­ket forces, the biotech­nol­ogy in­dus­try is record­ing growth that can

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